Blog

  • Frankie Pondolph
    February 21, 2019

    Time, it is something the modern-day shopper is not likely to have in abundance. Walking through the aisles at a grocery store, our senses are inundated. Everyone is trying to get our attention, our dollar, our buying patterns or demographics to add to their marketing research, so we can be placed in a box, minimized to a mere statistic. When we pluck a product off of a shelf, it usually ends there. Who out there really wants to take the time to get to know us, find out who we are? Turn customers into humans, statistics into conversations, aggregate data into community, and dollars into real change?

  • Frankie Pondolph
    February 7, 2019

    In early January, I wrote a piece highlighting my experience as a dairy farmer and the path that led to my work at Equal Exchange. In this piece below, I hope to dig into elements of the dairy crisis and raise awareness of the consequences of building a food system for large corporations and commodity markets.

  • Frankie Pondolph
    January 25, 2019

    Next week, the Equal Exchange organizing deparment will be cohosting a webinar with Oxfam America on their Behind the Barcodes Campaign. Join us on Tuesday, January 29th from 4-5pm EST by emailing eeactionforum@equalexchange.coop. An estimated 22 million people around the world work for food manufacturing companies alone. But that number is just the tip of the iceberg. Millions more work in formal or informal roles, such as seasonal labor on plantations or on fishing vessels at sea.And while supermarkets earn big profits, many of these workers, year-round or seasonal, face harsh and dangerous working conditions, earn low wages and live in poverty, struggle to feed their own families. From forced labor aboard fishing boats in Southeast Asia, to poverty wages on Indian tea plantations, and hunger among fruit and vegetable pickers in Southern Italy, human rights abuses are widespread among the women and men who produce the food that we buy from supermarkets around the world.

  • Frankie Pondolph
    January 3, 2019

    Being new at Equal Exchange has been like returning to school. I am constantly learning the intricacies of building supply chains that support producers beyond what a “fair-trade” label could mean. What drew me to Equal Exchange was their unconventional worker-owned cooperative model, and the farmer partners who are supported to stay on their land and to have more bargaining power as small farmers collectively. Working in small-scale agriculture in the U.S. has exposed me to the realities and obstacles around land tenure, access, and security that prevent a lot of people from entering into agriculture and also staying in it.

  • Frankie Pondolph
    December 19, 2018

    Welcome the second edition to the Equal Exchange Out West series! In early August, I sat down with Wells Neal, current Director of Equal Exchange West. We had a thorough discussion about his beginnings with Equal Exchange, his journey out west, struggles we’ve overcome along the way and ones we face as we peer into the future. One highlight is hearing how the elevator at our old Portland warehouse is now a coffee shop (Elevator Cafe & Commons), one that no longer moves, but can still be found right in the middle of our lively Portland coffee scene.

  • Frankie Pondolph
    December 10, 2018
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    When I received the news that Dr. Denis Mukwege received the Nobel Peace prize, I began to cry. Instant emotion took over my body as I shed tears for the thousands of survivors Dr. Mukwege has treated, the thousands of survivors that are on the road to recovery and the thousands of survivors that hide in the shadows. How has the world come to such a place that sexual violence is used as an act of war: one that divides families, destroys communities, and physically harms women, children and men of all ages? While unimaginable, it is the reality for many places around the world— but the world is watching and what we do next matters.

  • Frankie Pondolph
    November 28, 2018
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    By: Dana Drugmand, Equal Exchange Barista 

    On Thursday October 11th, a group of activists, teachers, friends and allies gathered in the Equal Exchange cafe for a discussion on chocolate and climate change hosted by the Equal Exchange Organizing department. The event, titled, “The Current Storm: The Realities of Climate Change for Cacao Producers,” featured Miriam Elena Maza Asencios and Cesar Salas Garcia from Acopagro in Peru and Abel Fernandez from the CONACADO Co-op in the Dominican Republic.

  • Frankie Pondolph
    November 15, 2018

    While we take stock in the still-incomplete election results of last week, a more “evergreen” threat to American democracy is busy working 24/7 to thwart the will of the people.That is the corrupting influence of big money in politics. In fact, spending on the mid-term elections topped $5 billion—much of that from “dark money” groups who don’t need to disclose who is behind them.Taking a stand in favor of democracy, Equal Exchange recently endorsed the direction of American Promise.

  • Frankie Pondolph
    November 15, 2018

    Equal Exchange avocado supporters may remember that in October 2016, Equal Exchange avocados were unavailable for about 2 weeks due to strikes in Mexico. You may also remember that during that time, Equal Exchange Produce President Nicole Vitello put out a blog post about the supply gap in which she tackled two major questions about the situation: why did the supply of Mexican avocados to the U.S. suddenly stop?, and How is Equal Exchange an alternative?

  • Frankie Pondolph
    November 8, 2018
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    Have you ever seen a cacao pod? In the wild or on the farm, it awkwardly hangs from the trunk and branches of the Theobroma cacao tree. An alien fruit of seemingly endless variety —shaped like a papaya, hard like an acorn squash and often ridged like one, too. It comes in reds, browns, golds, purples, sometimes different varieties growing right alongside one another. Cutting one open reveals a world no less strange than the exterior—filmy, gooey white membrane enrobes brown and purple beans that are about the size of large grapes. The aroma from the interior is alluring, though: citric and bold, floral and sweet, even woodsy and minerally, depending on the variety of pod you’re sniffing

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